Whether you knew Brandon Elam or not, I hope you remember the story.
Brandon was a normal, active boy who developed a form of brain cancer at age 13. He fought a three-year battle with cancer like he would've fought to win a baseball game, his favorite sport.
Hometown Heroes was at Brandon's side throughout his illness. They escorted him to school on his first day at Porter Ridge High. They went to his 16th birthday party with a parade of motorcycles. They arranged for him to ride in a helicopter at a Porter Ridge High football game where fans cheered: “We love Brandon!”
Last October, they also stood by Brandon's side in the hospital in the final hour. Later, they helped dedicate a baseball field in his memory at Mint Hill Athletic Association fields.
Now, the Elam family is reaching out to support Hometown Heroes.
The inaugural ELAM-N8 CANCER Golf Tournament will be held Saturday at The Divide Golf Club in Stallings.
Shotgun start is 8:30 a.m. All proceeds and donations go to Hometown Heroes in Brandon's memory.
“What they…do for families with sick, special needs and in some cases terminally ill children is such a blessing,” Scott and Anita Elam said in an e-mail. “Thank you HTH for putting smiles on not only our son Brandon's face, but on so many others who are battling just to have a normal life. Brandon loved you all, and we do too.”
Hometown Heroes was founded in 1998 by Donnie Dixon, retired from the Monroe Police Department. The group's motto is “big kids helping little kids.” Members raised about $100,000 last year and gave it all to help families and kids they sponsor. They have helped more than 40 children and their families and continue to help more.
“It's all about making the kids smile and giving the families an easier night's rest when (Hometown Heroes) pays to have the family car repaired, or buys groceries, or pays their rent, or takes the kids birthday shopping,” said Kim Bellinghausen, an Elam family friend. “They are like family.”
Oftentimes, Bellinghausen attends the group's board meetings. “I like to listen and watch how this group of motorcycle-riding, fun-loving teddy bears talk about each child they sponsor,” she says. “When grown men are in tears and unable to speak, you know their hearts are in the right place.”